A large crowd of supporters gathered for the vigil outside the Robert C. Byrd Federal Building in Charleston

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A group of West Virginian’s are calling on congressional leaders to put a stop to deep cuts to Head Start programs in the state.

“Close to 400 hundred children, 400 hundred slots were lost,” said Head Start Director Susan Stafford. “Staff was up to 80 staff people that lost jobs because of the sequester.”

A coalition of families, community members, faith groups and state leaders held a vigil Thursday in Charleston on the steps of the Robert C. Byrd Federal Building to create awareness of these funding cuts.

“We can’t stand it, our children are suffering. They’re not even getting services, they may qualify for the Head Start program and they may even have a slot but they can’t even get there because the transportation’s not given to them,” said Kathy McCormick, Executive Director of the Service Employees International Union District 1199.

The coalition believes the cuts will prevent access to programs that offer comprehensive education and health and social services, leaving many families and children with nowhere to turn.

“In my program alone I had to decrease my enrollment by 40 children. I served 236 in the Head Start program and I’m down to 196,” said Stafford. “I had to close two classrooms and lay off two staff members.”

And Stafford warns that it’s only going to get worse with another round of sequester cuts scheduled for next year and that will only be the beginning.

“We are hoping that Congress will listen to us and stop the sequester,” said Stafford. “From what I understand it’s in the legislation to continue every year for the next nine years and if that continues that’s going to be half our programs at least.”

Thursday also marked the launch of a legislative sign-on letter written by Senate Education Chair Robert Plymale. McCormick said something needs to be done soon because the children are suffering.

“How many children with bright minds are we not giving them a service to learn and the ability and the opportunity to better themselves,” she said.

The coalition is led by the WV Council of Churches, the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, WV Citizen Action Group, the WV Center on Budget and Policy and dozens of other partners.

The coalition hopes their actions will ultimately lead to the creation of legislation which will stop future sequester cuts.

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  • blugldmn

    How does me or the taxpayer not funding your abortion prevent you from getting one? Please explain....

  • blugldmn

    we should abort the parents along with the child, why should the child be the only to suffer?

  • Dale

    We have scores of people who are satisfied with living off of the backs of the working class. Generations! Working class folks are tired of raising the unfortunate children who are born into poverty. This cycle has slowly caught up with us and now we're in a catch 22! W/O a two party system, serious dialog between government leaders is questionable. WV needs fresh minds in positions to make change.

    • Joe

      Agreed. Everytime you visit the neighborhood convenience store you see it. Of course, always seems to be plenty of cash for tattoos, cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets, etc.

  • blugldmn

    I am not in favor of abortion personally but I don't feel I have the right to enforce my view of it on another person. Having said that I don't believe I should have to fund it.

    As far as social spending for families goes I think it should be minimal.

    Your questions really can't be answered in a yes or no fashion.

    Take food stamps for example.

    Do I think people should starve? No

    Is there abuse in the foodstamp program? Obviously there is and it needs to be cutback.

    Now answer this

    What republican has prevented someone from getting an abortion?

    BTW I am not a republican they disgust me as much as democrats..

    If you didn't want the child why did you make it?

    Do you not believe in personal responsibility?

    • wvu999

      I just don't feel that people (mostly men) own a woman's vagina. I am in favor of abortion. However, it should not be a form of birth control. Accidents happen. People make bad decisions. A young child shouldn't suffer the rest of their life bc their parents are idiots.

      What republicans say hey I will help fund a woman's choice? Obviously that prevents it.

      At least you have an opinion and I respect that.

      • CPA

        We should own them........We (mostly men) are paying for those vagina's through tax money.

  • blugldmn

    Typical democrat reaction

    Claim republicans are stopping abortion even when the government is funding it as we speak....

    99 surely isn't your IQ... To make that dumb statement.

    • wvu999


      Answer this honestly

      Are you for or against abortion?
      Are you for of against social programs for families?

      Now how dumb of a statement was it?

  • wvu999

    Typical republican logic
    Don't help take care of kids in need but no way in hell we are allowing people to abort unwanted children.

  • blugldmn

    Large crowd my ass....

    Probably state workers protesting on our dime...

    Who set this up ? SEIU?

    • susanf

      Your swipe at "state workers" is an insult and you are obviously misinformed. Head Start is not part of the Public Employees system. Get your facts straight before you disparage others.

  • blugldmn

    Take care of your own children or don't have them. Maybe those kids should have been aborted if the parents that made them can't feed them. What a bunch of leeches always sticking their hand in someone's wallet because of their own irresponsibility.

    Most of their kids are probably obese anyway a little less free food won't hurt their waistline .

    Let me eat cake!

  • Bucktail

    You are simply misinformed Luke. do your research. Head Start kids are less likely to be on welfare as adults, less likely to have a criminal record, more likely to seek higher education, and generally take school to be more important than those who fail qualify. In other words, less liekly to be a drain on society as an adult.

    • Luke

      If it is truly an educational program then let the school systems handle the program instead of Community Action Programs which are social welfare agencies. Initially Head Start was administered by the school systems for children entering the first grade. Unfortunately, politicians are more interested in buying votes through welfare programs than in educating children.

      It is time to end Head Start and redirect the billions upon billions spent in that program to other more productive uses.

    • Hillbilly

      Actually I did read an article awhile back that said that kids that went to Head Start were ahead of the pack going into Kindergarten, and first grade. However, by 3rd grade they were at the same level as kids that did not... so there was really no gain in the long term

  • Luke

    First, the Head Start Program has been larded up the past twenty years so it is time to cut back on this 50 year old program that does not in any measurable way improve the educational performance of the under privileged children that participate. One need only look at WV test scores to know that.

    Second, what started out as a summer program for the under privileged has been turned into a year round child care service and welfare program.

    Third, beware of the SEIU which has an agenda that has nothing to do with education or child welfare.

  • Matt

    Sequester?? What sequester? Our Dictator says we have enough in the bank to fight yet another war across the planet we have no business being in, but we don't have enough to take care of our own. All This sounds rather odd.....